Death wrote:jam sessions/improvisation
Yes, that's one of the use cases for this software -- as a practice tool to improve one's technique, especially in regards to improvised solos. The other case is to provide quasi-live backing tracks for a gigging soloist, which is how I use it.
It's meant to be used in a live setting. It's not a composition nor studio tool. It's a performance tool.
Death wrote:I've never even heard of a program that can do something like this.
Oh no, BackupBand does nothing new. The granddaddy of this sort of app, "Band in a Box" for Windows, has been around for decades. So have (hardware) arranger keyboards like Yamaha's PSR series, Roland's BK series, Korg's PA series, etc. BackupBand borrows a lot of ideas from these sources.
Basslint wrote:The looks might turn of some people
About the UI: The app is primarily for gigging musicians -- especially me as I've been gigging with it for over a decade. As a gigging musician, I need a small, efficient setup. BackupBand is run on a small rackmount computer. The entire operation of the app is controlled by a 7 inch USB (displaylink) touchscreen that sits atop my MIDI keyboard controller. No PC keyboard. No mouse. I have a custom BackupBand "window layout" that shows only what I need. I have about 5 seconds to cue up the next song, even if it's an impromptu request, before the audience gets impatient. BackupBand does it for me.
In order for a UI to work on a 7" touchscreen only, everything needs to be big, flat, rudimentary, minimal graphic "decorations", and not so tightly packed that a fingertip can't quickly "hit the target". BackupBand's ui works. Ever try using the typical gtk/qt app on a 7" touchscreen? Now that
is not useable. Granted, BackupBand doesn't look "pretty" on a 4K display. But no sane musician is gonna gig with that.
Also, BackupBand's UI is vastly configurable. You can strip it down to a blank window, and build it up from there. This is made possible with my own simplified "toolkit". You don't see this level of customization in gtk/qt apps because those are complex toolkits -- too complex for an enduser to be able to create his own ui. And I use that customization.
So, I won't be changing the ui, because complete customization, and usability on small touchscreens, trumps "visual appeal" for me.
Basslint wrote:has to be more straightforward
Although the user interface may look rudimentary, the underlying program is rather versatile and complex. It has a built-in multi-channel sampler, a midi sequencer, an algorithmic composer, and a decently sophisticated master controller logic that supports splits, layers, and channel zones. And because it needs to be controllable live, nearly every function can be configured to be controlled by most any MIDI or USB device. Any way you cut it, for that featureset and customization, there's going to be a significant "learning curve".
I tried to mitigate that in 2 ways:
1) Good documentation. With good docs, any
program is "straightforward" because the docs tell you how to do everything. (Yes, the manual sections after "Songsheets" needs to be fleshed out with more examples and charts. But those sections deal with "advanced configuration" that is entirely optional
2) I designed it to work "right out of box". There's very little setup needed. You basically run the app, click on one of the style buttons (ie, Heavy Rock), and click on one of the chord buttons. There's your backup band.
For example, you don't need to find bass, drum, and guitar soundfonts, load them into FluidSynth, and connect it to BackupBand via JACK. BackupBand comes with a very nice set of samples (I think better than what you get in soundfonts -- these are round robin, multi-velocity samples I put a lot of work into.) And it has its own built-in sampler, that doesn't even need JACK. All of this works "right out of box". Yes, you can configure BackupBand to do the former. But there's a reason why I don't tell you how to do so until one of the last chapters in the manual. It's optional advanced setup. And there's lots of that stuff to configure if you need it. You could spend hours just going through the "Setup". And if that's what you did on your first try, I can certainly understand why you thought the program was too "technical" and "not straightforward".
But you didn't need to do that. As the first chapters of the manual explain: "Click one of these Style buttons here. Click on a chord button here. Play along".